Text: John 15:1-27
I’m the queen of focusing on the wrong things.
My daughter makes an amazing piece of 7-year-old art and declares it dedicated to her mom (that’s me!)—and I silently lament the sea of paper covering the floor and the glue stick smashed into all the creases in the dining room table.
A long-lost friend says she and her family are coming to visit for a weekend—and I spend more time worrying about the condition of the guest room than rejoicing in the long conversations and late-night laughter to come.
My husband spends hours creating new storage solutions for our mudroom (slash laundry room, slash pantry, slash coat closet, slash place the dog stays so she won’t eat the food off our plates)—and I involuntarily scowl that my tired, dirty, three-compartment clothes hamper will no longer fit. (Three compartments! You can understand my sadness.)
And here, in John Chapter 15, Jesus says this:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
– John 15:4-5, ESV
But do you know what I hear? I hear, “Bear fruit.” Or, to be more specific, “Amanda, bear fruit,” and, “Amanda, why aren’t you bearing fruit?” I, the Queen of Focusing On The Wrong Things, read Jesus’ words and hear all of the goal and none of the grace. I want the end but forget the means.
Yes, bear fruit. Yes, love others. Yes, give grace to a world that will misunderstand and even hate us. But look back through today’s chapter: Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to abide! When we abide—when we remain in the “Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” of Christ (to borrow my favorite phrase from the Jesus Storybook Bible)—THEN the fruit will come. But only then.
We can only bear fruit if we are grafted into the Vine.
We can only love others if we are abiding in God’s love.
And we can only receive the gospel if we receive it whole—where the holy standard of a righteous God meets the irresistible grace of the Savior’s Cross.
Father, thank you for your Word. Graft us to the True Vine today and every day, and teach us what it means to abide when all we want to do is produce. Help us to rest in your never-stopping love. Amen.